VideoSteve and Anna-Lisa Kirby bring dynamic energy to Winnipeg's jazz scene
Posted by Sandra Thacker, SCENE Producer | Saturday June 8, 2013
Steve Kirby, Anna-Lisa Kirby, Ismaila Alfa (CBC/Ratuski)
I think that Winnipeg is a world class jazz scene and the only thing stopping it is peoples' mindset.
—Steve Kirby, jazz musician
Even though Steve and Anna-Lisa Kirby are not from Winnipeg, they've most definitely made a difference in Winnipeg's jazz scene, both locally and on the international stage.
He's from St. Louis and she's from Toronto. They met in New York and ended up in Winnipeg in 2003, so this year marks their 10th anniversary in the city.
SCENE on Air host Ismaila Alfa wondered what the Kirbys thought of the Winnipeg jazz scene when they first arrived. "I thought it was grossly underreported," Steve Kirby recalls.
"I thought it was grossly understated. It's sort of like a chef coming to a kitchen where they told him there would be nothing in the cupboards and yet there's all kinds of stuff to cook with. I think that Winnipeg is a world class jazz scene and the only thing stopping it is peoples' mindset."
The Kirbys have done everything they can to get people to buy in since they arrived. They both teach in the jazz program at the University of Manitoba, they run Jazz on Wheels - a program that physically brings jazz players to inner city neighbourhoods on a flatbed truck - and the Bridge program in schools where they get young people playing.
One of those young people is Curtis Nowosad who recently accepted a full scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music. "Curtis has been a part of the program since day one. Basically he became Steve's drummer and Steve's student - he was 16," Anna-Lisa Kirby explains.
"He did in 10 years what I did in probably 25 or 30 years," Steve Kirby says. "He did it the same way too. Getting on the stage with somebody that won't let him play...I told him it takes an awful good drummer to be better than no drummer at all."
The Jazz Winnipeg Festival runs June 13 to June 23. Hear Steve Kirby on Monday June 17 at noon at the Jazz for Lunch series.Before then, catch him, along with Anna-Lisa Kirby on SCENE on Air with
host Ismaila Alfa on Saturday June 8. The show airs every Saturday from 5
- 6 p.m. on CBC Radio One, 89.3 FM/990 AM/97.9 FM in Brandon.